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Zheng Jie Vs Ana Ivanovic

Zheng Jie brings mighty Ana Ivanovic down to earth

It was only thanks to a fortuitous net cord that Ana Ivanovic survived her second-round match against Nathalie Dechy, of France. There was no such helping hand yesterday as the world No 1, the Princess of Paris, was dispatched with a horribly indecent haste from Wimbledon by the No 5 ranked player from China. You could not make it up.

“Ivanovic was lost, she did not know what to do,” was the verdict of Virginia Wade, the 1977 Wimbledon champion who probably never saw a player from China in her career. The Wade verdict was hard but fair because Ivanovic survived against Dechy only on sheer instinct and willpower.

Zheng Jie, a 24-year-old from Chengdu, a tiny terrier of a hitter, had more than enough of those characteristics to defeat the new queen of the castle 6-1, 6-4.

Poor Ivanovic, it does not take long for the mighty to fall. Only that the Serb has not looked that mighty since taking the French Open by storm. On the final point of the match, her attempt to return a serve by Zheng sent the ball careering into the spectators and it was all she could do to hold back the tears. Her No 1 ranking is not under threat this fortnight but she does not feel much like a No1 this morning, that much has to be true. “I just told myself to keep going, keep going,” Zheng, a wild card, said.

Hers was a courageous win and its impact on the championships is immense. Zheng will now play Agnes Szavay, the No 15 seed from Hungary, in the last 16.

A third former champion joined the exodus yesterday when Amélie Mauresmo was beaten in straight sets by Serena Williams, 7-6, 6-1. The French girl followed Lindsay Davenport and Maria Sharapova out of the gates and one wondered if she has the ability any more to carve her magic against the bigger hitters.

When Nicole Vaidisova lost in the first round of three consecutive clay-court events, in Berlin, Rome and the French Open, David Felgate wondered if his second dip into women's coaching was a shocking aberration. Things on grass had not been that much better, as Vaidisova succumbed in the quarter-finals of the Edgbaston Trophy a fortnight ago to Bethanie Mattek, of the United States, and in the first round at Eastbourne to Olga Govortsova, an up-and-comer from Ukraine.

Felgate is known as a chipper, positive person but he was having trouble accepting the 19-year-old's indifference to what was happening. Something had to change. When she smashed her racket midway through a run of nine consecutive lost games against Sam Stosur, of Australia, in the second round, it was all Felgate could do to stay in his seat.

Remarkably Vaidisova was the first woman to reach the last 16 yesterday, a 6-2, 6-4 victor over Casey Dellacqua, also of Australia, a creditable scoreline not least in that at 4-3, 30-all in the second set, with the Czech teenager poised for victory, the first drops of rain began to fall and the players had to scurry for cover. Vaidisova thwacked two balls against the backdrop of No 18 Court, so angry was she to have to stop.

Felgate, who coached Tim Henman for nine years, knows all about how players cope with breaks for rain in SW19 and he worried that Vaidisova might tie herself in mental knots. He should not have been unduly concerned. Vaidisova went out to complete the match with a competent hold of serve and, finally, a towering ace down the T. “I hadn't seen her smile that widely since we started working together,” Felgate said.

“My message to her all along has been about staying in the present. In her second match here, she was beginning to get worried about whether her opponent would start to play well, which is like not being able to tell the wood from the trees. We have been working on hitting the big spots on the court and focusing on every point. What was encouraging today was that she only had one break point against her in the whole match.”

Vaidisova reached last year's quarter-finals, where she lost to Ivanovic after having three match points. A year on, their emotions were quite different.

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Dee Traboscia

Dee Traboscia Photo: 'Buy My House On eBay, I'll Be Your Wife'

Deven Traboscia, or Dee Traboscia, is a 42-year-old divorced single woman living in West Palm Beach. She's desperate to sell her home - and she's desperate to find her soul-mate.

"I find myself being alone and wondering what I'm going to do with my life," Traboscia told NBC6. "I'm ready now. I'm ready to get married."

So now that she's ready to get married, Dee is auctioning off her house - and herself - to the highest bidder on the internet.

Go here for more info, photos and video.

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Bear Market

U.S. Stocks Slump, Pushing Dow Average to Brink of Bear Market

U.S. stocks fell a second day, pushing the Dow Jones Industrial Average to the brink of a bear market, on concern subprime-related writedowns at banks will worsen and record oil and a slowing economy will prolong the worst profit decline since 2002.

The Dow extended its retreat from an all-time high in October to almost 20 percent, the threshold for a so-called bear market. American International Group Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co. sent the Standard & Poor's 500 Financials Index to a five-year low on speculation of mounting losses. Hasbro Inc. and KB Home helped lead consumer stocks in the S&P 500 to the lowest level since 2003 as oil topped $142 a barrel.

The Dow average lost 106.91 points, or 0.9 percent, to 11,346.51, leaving it within 0.1 percent of a bear market. The 30-stock measure fell 10 percent this month for the worst June since 1930. The S&P 500 slid 4.77, or 0.4 percent, to 1,278.38 today. The Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 5.74, or 0.3 percent, to 2,315.63. Eight stocks declined for every five that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.

``The news on earnings is that the second quarter is probably going to be worse than we thought,'' said Ron Sweet, vice president of equity investments at USAA Investment Management Co., which oversees $100 billion in San Antonio. ``The old news keeps sticking around: it's energy prices, it's writeoffs at banks, it's the slow economy.''

The S&P 500 slumped 3 percent this week, the Dow slid 4.2 percent and the Nasdaq tumbled 3.8 percent. The S&P 500's 8.7 percent decline in June is the worst monthly performance since the 11 percent plunge in September 2002.

Earnings Slump

Analysts forecast earnings for companies in the S&P 500 will slump 11 percent on average, according to a Bloomberg survey today, compared with a projected decline of 8.9 percent a week ago. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. strategist David Kostin said in a report today that expectations for 2008 and 2009 profits are ``too optimistic'' and are likely to be reduced.

AIG decreased 34 cents to an 11-year low of $27.75. The world's biggest insurer plans to absorb losses for a dozen insurance units after their securities-lending accounts suffered $13 billion of writedowns tied to the subprime-mortgage collapse.

Merrill fell 35 cents to $32.70, the lowest price since March 2003. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. analyst Roger Freeman increased his second-quarter loss estimate on expectations subprime-related writedowns will be more than twice as big as previously projected.

`Tenuous Situation'

MBIA Inc. lost 22 cents to a 20-year low of $4.17. The world's largest bond insurer faces a ``tenuous situation'' as it seeks to cover payments and collateral calls on $7.4 billion of securities triggered by a credit-rating downgrade, Fitch Ratings analyst Thomas Abruzzo said.

MBIA may need to tap assets pledged to back other commitments as it comes up with the money, potentially opening the company up for further downgrades, said Abruzzo, who yesterday withdrew his rating on MBIA and Ambac Financial Group Inc. after the companies refused to give him information.

Ambac slid 19 cents to $1.61, a record low.

The S&P 500 Consumer Discretionary Index lost 0.7 percent, falling to the lowest since October 2003, after crude oil gained as much as 2.4 percent to $142.99 a barrel. Hasbro, the world's second-largest toymaker, lost $1.60 to $35.14.

KB Home, the homebuilder founded by Eli Broad, slumped 41 cents to $17.72. The company reported its fifth straight quarterly loss as rising mortgage rates and falling prices reduced demand for homes.

Worst Ahead?

Homebuilders in S&P indexes lost 1 percent as a group. Lennar Corp. fell 72 cents to $12.62, the lowest price since September 2000. The second-largest builder said yesterday that the housing market has yet to see the worst of the slump.

Micron Technology Inc. retreated the most since October 2006, falling 89 cents, or 13 percent, to $6.10. The largest U.S. producer of memory chips reported a wider third-quarter loss on weaker pricing for semiconductors used to store pictures and music in portable devices.

``June has been difficult,'' Matthieu Bordeaux-Groult, who helps oversee about $6.2 billion as fund manager at Richelieu Finance in Paris, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. ``There are a lot of negative elements in the market such as high raw materials prices, but valuations are low and offer buying opportunities.''

The S&P 500 gained as much as 0.5 percent earlier after U.S. consumer spending rose 0.8 percent in May, exceeding forecasts. Tax rebates drove the biggest gain in incomes in almost three years, enabling households to at least temporarily overcome soaring fuel bills.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. climbed the most since May 1, rising 63 cents, or 3.2 percent, to $20.30. The drugmaker selling a unit for $4.1 billion to finance acquisitions may itself be a takeover target, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst Timothy Anderson said.

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Arpad Arki Busson & Uma Thurman Engaged

Uma Thurman Engaged to Arpad Busson

Actress Uma Thurman's representative, Stephen Huvane has confirmed to People magazine, that Swiss multimillionaire Arpad Busson popped the question and Uma accepted.

The 8-plus carat diamond, surrounded by 20 smaller stones, is surely the icing on the cake for Thurman. A source close to the couple stated that “it’s the most beautiful piece I have ever seen, Arki did a wonderful job”.

The lovely Uma has been dating Arki since last summer. The couple were able to successfully pull off a long distance relationship; he is based in London and she in New York.

Arpad had a previous relationship with supermodel Elle Macpherson and is the father of her two sons. Uma Thurman has a daughter and a son with actor Ethan Hawke. The two divorced in 2003.

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Robert Calhoun Guiding Light

TV Obits: Charisse, Calhoun, Schwartz, Brandt

A roundup of TV people from in front of the camera and behind the scenes who have passed away.
  • Cyd Charisse: Though she is known best for her work with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly in many classic movies, including Singin' in the Rain, The Band Wagon, Ziegfield Follies, and Words and Music, she also appeared on many TV shows, including Hawaii Five-O, The Love Boat, The Fall Guy, Medical Center, Burke's Law, Checkmate, and Arthur Godfrey and Friends, as well as a voice role on an episode of Frasier. She died of a heart attack at age 86.

  • Robert Calhoun: He was a producer and director who worked on many soap operas, including As The World Turns, Guiding Light, Another World, and Texas. He died of lung cancer at age 77.

  • Tony Schwartz: He was an advertising icon who is probably best remembered for creating the famous "Daisy" TV commercial for Lyndon Johnson during the 1964 Presidential campaign. He also worked on other advertising campaigns, including Coke, Chrysler, and anti-smoking ads for the American Cancer Society. He died of heart valve stenosis at age 84.

  • Yanna Kroyt Brandt: She was a producer on several shows, including The American Experience, Great Performances, FYI: For Your Information, and many other films and specials. She died in an auto accident at age 74.
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Northwest Passage

North Pole could be ice-free this summer, scientists say

The North Pole may be briefly ice-free by September as global warming melts away Arctic sea ice, according to scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.

"We kind of have an informal betting pool going around in our center and that betting pool is 'does the North Pole melt out this summer?' and it may well," said the center's senior research scientist Mark Serreze.

It's a 50-50 bet that the thin Arctic sea ice, which was frozen last autumn, will completely melt away at the geographic North Pole, Serreze said.

The ice retreated to a record level in September when the Northwest Passage -- the sea route through the Arctic Ocean -- opened up briefly for the first time in recorded history.

"What we've seen through the past few decades is the Arctic sea ice cover is becoming thinner and thinner as the system warms up," Serreze said.

Specific weather patterns will determine whether the North Pole's ice cover melts completely this summer, he said.

"Last year, we had sort of a perfect weather pattern to get rid of ice to open up that Northwest Passage," Serreze said. "This year, a different pattern can set up so maybe we'll preserve some ice there. We're in a wait-and-see mode right now. We'll see what happens."

The brief lack of ice at the top of the globe will not bring any immediate consequences, he said.

"From the viewpoint of the science, the North Pole is just another point in the globe, but it does have this symbolic meaning," Serreze said. "There's supposed to be ice at the North Pole. The fact that we may not have any by the end of this summer could be quite a symbolic change."

Serreze said it's "just another indicator of the disappearing Arctic sea ice cover" but that it is happening so soon is "just astounding to me."

"Five years ago, to think that we'd even be talking about the possibility of the North Pole melting out in the summer, I would have never thought it," he said.

The melting, however, has been long seen as inevitable, he said.

"If you talked to me or other scientists just a few years ago, we were saying that we might lose all or most of the summer sea ice cover by anywhere from 2050 to 2100," Serreze said. "Then, recently, we kind of revised those estimates, maybe as early as 2030. Now, there's people out there saying it might be even before that. So, things are happening pretty quick up there."

Serreze said those who suggest the Arctic meltdown is just part of a historic cycle are wrong.

"It's not cyclical at this point. I think we understand the physics behind this pretty well," he said. "We've known for at least 30 years, from our earliest climate models, that it's the Arctic where we'd see the first signs of global warming.

"It's a situation where we hate to say we told you so, but we told you so," he said.

Serreze said the Arctic sea ice will not be the same for decades.

"If we had a few cold years in a row, we could put sort of a temporary damper on it, but I think at this point going to an ice-free Arctic Ocean is inevitable," he said. "I don't think we can stop that now."

Reduced greenhouse gas emissions could "cool things down a bit," he said.

"It would recover fairly quickly, but it's just not going to happen for a while," he said. "I think we're committed at this point."

There are some positive aspects to the ice melting, he said. Ships could use the Northwest Passage to save time and energy by no longer having to travel through the Panama Canal or around Cape Horn.

"There's also, or course, oil at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean," he said. "Now, the irony of that is kind of clear but the fact that we are opening up the Arctic Ocean does make it more accessible."

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Richard "Dickie" Scruggs Jailed

Judge sentences Scruggs to 5 years in prison

Famed anti-tobacco lawyer Richard "Dickie" Scruggs is headed to prison for five years for conspiring to bribe a judge.

Scruggs was sentenced Friday in a Mississippi federal court. He was also fined $250,000.

Scruggs gained fame in the 1990s by using a corporate insider against tobacco companies in lawsuits that resulted in a $206 billion settlement. That case was portrayed in the 1999 film "The Insider."

Scruggs was indicted in November along with his son and a law partner after the FBI secretly recorded conversations about a plan to bribe a state court judge.

Scruggs and former law partner Sidney Backstrom pleaded guilty to conspiracy in March.

The judge handed down the full sentence requested by prosecutors. Scruggs must report to prison by Aug. 4.

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Rotten Neighbor

Rotten Neighbors, founded last July, is the U.S. twist on ""human flesh search engines." The site singles out neighbors for offenses ranging from sanitary to violent.

Using Google Maps, Rotten Neighbors shows homes of the accused, represented by red Monopoly-style houses (for rotten) and green (for good).

Most of the postings are anonymous on Rotten Neighbors which averages several hundred thousand "hits" per day. Neighborhood ratings can be given for Noise, Safety, Appearance, Services, Traffic based on a star system that rolls up into an Overall rating.

Yes, you can find where registered sex offenders live in your neighborhood.

Co-founder Brant Walker, a 27 year--old Web site designer from San Diego, created the site after he moved into a new apartment and noticed a rotten stench coming from his neighbor's door.

Rotten Neighbors added a "flag for removal" after people targeted as bad neighbors complained. If a post gets flagged a certain number of times, it is now removed as with Craigslist.

Rotten Neighbors gives people a window into "The Lives of Others" - allowing neighbors to turn each other in for alleged offenses. It's just one more way the Internet acts as Big Brother.

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Muskrat Gets Blame For Flooding

Muskrats blamed for levee breach on Mississippi

Muskrat holes weakened a Mississippi River levee on Friday, allowing floodwaters to pour into Lincoln County, Missouri, just north of St. Louis, officials said.

Sheriff's deputies alerted residents to evacuate, yelling "get out, the levee broke" as they went door-to-door in the affected areas, according to an Associated Press report.

Winfield resident Debbie Halcomb, 52, heard warning sirens and knew her worst fears were realized, the AP reported.

"I was hoping it would hold, but it didn't," the AP quoted Halcomb as saying. "I think we probably lost it on this last bunch of rain."

Though overnight rains were reported in the area, officials speaking at a Friday morning press conference said muskrats looking for food or making dens had dug into the earthen levee, weakening it enough that nature took care of the rest.

"Until this morning, we felt our progress was successful and would hold the water back," said Andy Binder, public information officer for Lincoln County. "However, Mother Nature's priorities were apparently different." Video Watch how rodents opened the levee to floodwaters »

The river had been forecast to crest at 37½ feet on Saturday. The levee broke around 5:30 a.m. Friday.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers blamed the structural collapse on pockets dug in the levee walls by muskrats.

These pockets had led to "down slides" that had occurred in two 100-foot-sections of the levee over the past several days. Down slides happen when portions of the earthen levee shift because of water seepage.

The Corps said that the Mississippi, having exceeded the original levee, was being held back by sandbags placed by volunteers and the National Guard.

Travis Tutka of the Army Corps of Engineers said there had been an inspection of the walls around 4 a.m.

"At that time there was a significant amount of water, but it was running clear, so we thought we had the situation under control," Tutka said.

"We were notified about the breach by the National Guard at 5:03 a.m., and were told that the water flow had started to push the sandbags off of the top of the levee."

The levee was the last one remaining in Lincoln County and was protecting about 100 homes. Almost 700 homes in the area have been damaged by floodwater.


The levee breach poses problems for Lincoln County, but areas farther downstream such as St. Louis, Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and Memphis, Tennessee, may see lower water levels in the near future, according to CNN meteorologist Reynolds Wolf.

President Bush on Wednesday declared 22 Missouri counties to be disaster areas. The declaration makes federal funding available to state and local governments for disaster-related damages.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve was scrambling to prevent a "contagion" from infecting the nation's financial system when it took unprecedented actions to back a Bear Stearns rescue package and provide emergency loans to big Wall Street firms.

The Federal Reserve released documents Friday providing insights into its private deliberations in March that led to those controversial decisions. The Fed's actions came at a time when credit and financial problems were intensifying, threatening to paralyze the entire financial system and plunge the economy into a recession.

Given the fragile conditions of the financial markets at that time, the Fed said it felt compelled to intervene because an "immediate failure" of Bear Stearns would bring about an "expected contagion."

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues initially moved on March 14 to provide temporary emergency financing to investment bank Bear Stearns Cos. through an arrangement with JP Morgan Chase & Co. Two days later as the investment bank teetered on the brink of bankruptcy, the Fed agreed to provide backing for up to $30 billion of a deal where JP Morgan would take over the troubled company.

That same day — March 16_ the Fed said it would allow big Wall Street firms to go directly to the Fed for emergency loans, a privilege only commercial banks had enjoyed. It was the broadest use of the Fed's lending powers since the 1930s.

The Fed's decision to take this action was "based on recent, rapidly changing developments," the documents said. "These developments demonstrated that there had been impairment of a broad range of financial markets" that Wall Street firms rely on for financing.

There was fear that other Wall Street firms could become in jeopardy, sending problems cascading through the financial system.

Democrats in Congress and other critics contend the Fed's actions are akin to a government bailout and are putting billions of taxpayer dollars at risk.

However, Bernanke has defended the actions and in appearances on Capitol Hill has said he doesn't believe taxpayers will suffer any losses.

The Fed's financial lifeline in JP Morgan's takeover of Bear Stearns was subsequently changed to $29 billion and — most recently — to $28.82 billion.

The documents said that the Fed, in discussions on March 16, believed that the takeover — and its involvement in helping to bring it about — was "necessary to avoid serious disruptions to financial markets." The Fed said that "many potential investors" had been invited to back Bear Stearns but the investment firm determined that JP Morgan was "the most suitable bidder."

Bear Stearns began to unravel last year when two hedge funds it managed collapsed because of heavy bets on subprime mortgage securities, which soured when the housing market fell into a deep slump. Along with other big investment banks, it was forced to take multibillion-dollar write-downs on the bad investments. Then rumors in mid-March about the company's cash position triggered a run on the investment bank that left it close to bankruptcy.

Earlier this month, JPMorgan closed its acquisition of Bear Stearns, bringing to an end an 85-year old institution.

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Batman The Dark Knight Honors Heath Ledger & Conway Wickliffe

Dark Knight dedicated to Ledger

Actor Heath Ledger, who died following a drug overdose earlier this year, will be remembered in an on-screen tribute in his final film, The Dark Knight.

The end credits of the Batman Begins sequel will include a farewell note to the 28-year-old who died in January.

At the time of his death the Brokeback Mountain star had just completed filming the role of The Joker.

Special effects technician, Conway Wickliffe, who was killed in a stunt accident, will also be remembered.

The special tribute reads: "In memory of our friends Heath Ledger & Conway Wickliffe."

'Iconic role'

The hotly anticipated Dark Knight film also stars Christian Bale as Batman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman.

Ledger died from an accidental overdose of six different types of prescription drugs in his New York apartment.

In the production notes, British director Christopher Nolan wrote of Ledger: "I needed a phenomenal actor, but he also had to be someone unafraid of taking on such an iconic role."

"Heath created something entirely original. It's stunning, it's captivating. It's going to blow people away" he added.

The Dark Knight will premiere in London on 21 July and goes on general release in the UK on 25 July.

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Edna Fiedler Nigerian Check Scam

Woman gets two years for aiding Nigerian internet check scam

A Washington woman was sentenced on Wednesday to two years in prison and five years of supervised release for her role in an Internet counterfeit check scheme.

Edna Fiedler pleaded guilty in March to attempting to defraud U.S. citizens in a scheme known as a Nigerian check scam.

Fiedler helped her accomplices in Nigeria send fake checks to people who had agreed to cash the checks on behalf of the sender, keeping some of the proceeds and sending the rest back.

The Nigerians found people willing to cash the fake checks via e-mail. They would send their names as well as fake documents that looked like Wal-Mart money orders, Bank of America checks, U.S. Postal Service checks and American Express traveler's checks to Fiedler. They told her how to fill out the checks and where to send them.

The recipients most likely thought they were helping out someone who needed a person in the U.S. to cash a check for them, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. They were able to get the money by cashing the checks, and sent most of it to either Fiedler or her Nigerian accomplices. However, once the checks were discovered to be fake, the people who cashed them were responsible for the full amount.

All told, Fiedler sent out US$609,000 worth of phony checks and money orders. When U.S. Secret Service agents investigating the case searched Fiedler's house, they found additional fake checks worth more than $1.1 million that she was preparing to send out.

At a recent conference in Seattle, a representative from the U.S. Postal Service and Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna described ways they're working to shut down these kinds of scams, particularly because they often involve people who don't realize that they're taking part in illegal activities.

The U.S. Postal Service recently sent 15 postal investigators to Lagos, Nigeria, and during a three-month period there, they helped intercept counterfeit checks, lottery tickets and eBay overpayment schemes with a face value of $2.1 billion, Chris Siouris, a cyber investigator at the U.S. Postal Inspector, said at the recent conference. Siouris, McKenna and others are pushing for ways to better educate Internet users so that people don't unwittingly help out in these kinds of e-mail scams.

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Wendi Nix : ESPN To Present 62nd Annual NBA Draft

For the sixth consecutive year, ESPN will present live coverage of the NBA Draft – this year featuring a talent pool highlighted by Michael Beasley (Kansas State) and Derrick Rose (Memphis) – Thursday, June 26 at 7 p.m. ET from the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York. Stuart Scott will host with college basketball analyst and Draft expert Jay Bilas and NBA analysts Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy.

Additional contributors will include international basketball expert Fran Fraschilla; college basketball analyst Dick Vitale (via satellite); on-site reporters Ric Bucher and Andy Katz; on-site analysis and Draft pick interviews by Stephen A. Smith; green room interviews by Doris Burke; and field reporters David Amber (Chicago), Colleen Dominguez (Seattle) and Wendi Nix (Tarrytown, N.Y., site of the Knicks’ training facility).

ESPN’s in-depth multimedia presentation of the NBA Draft (details outlined below) will also include a live broadcast on ESPN Radio; a live simulcast on and ESPN Mobile TV; SportsCenter Specials on ESPN June 23-25; expanded ESPNEWS coverage; ESPNU and ESPN International programming; ESPN Mobile Properties content; comprehensive reporting and analysis on; and an ESPN The Magazine Draft preview (on newsstands now).

ESPN’s Draft telecast will display a constant crawl on-screen graphic at all times (including during commercial breaks), continuously providing up-to-the-minute Draft updates including picks, trades, team-by-team summaries, player stats, the results of’s interactive polling in real time, Bilas’ “Best Available” prospects and Fraschilla’s top international prospects. The crawl will also feature team needs, which will include perspectives from Jackson and Van Gundy. Additionally, for the first time, those viewing the NBA Draft via ESPN HD will have access to this information and more throughout the entire telecast (with information included within the side columns of the screen).

Featured NBA Draft production elements:

* Jay Bilas’ in-depth analysis of the top prospects;
* video conferencing with 14 team headquarters providing immediate access to the key team personnel in this year’s Draft;
* more than 130 player highlight packages featuring top prospects;
* “Draft Cam” from the Draft rooms of multiple teams, including the Chicago Bulls with the No. 1 pick, providing a unique window to the decision makers as they make their selection;
* behind-the-scenes video of prospects as they endure testing and measurements at the Orlando Pre-Draft camp;
* a special production shoot involving several of the top players (click here to preview) in the Draft including D.J. Augustin, Jerryd Bayless, Michael Beasley, Eric Gordon, Brook Lopez, Kevin Love, O.J. Mayo and Derrick Rose providing content for a wide range of purposes – promotions, bumps, features, etc.

Draft commentator highlights:

* Dick Vitale, ESPN NCAA basketball analyst since 1979 and a former NBA coach, will appear via satellite;
* Fran Fraschilla, who has done extensive overseas scouting, will report on and evaluate the international field of players;
* Stephen A. Smith will conduct interviews with the NBA draftees on site once they are selected;
* Doris Burke will interview key figures (players, their families, college coaches, etc.) in the league’s Green Room;
* ESPN The Magazine senior writer Ric Bucher will cover breaking news, including trade talks;
* senior writer Andy Katz will report on breaking NBA Draft news, along with information pertaining to college players;
* David Amber will report from Chicago with news associated with the Bulls, the team with the first overall selection in the Draft;
* Colleen Dominguez will report from Seattle, with the SuperSonics possessing six Draft picks;
* Wendi Nix will report from Tarrytown, N.Y., the site of the Knicks’ training facility. The Knicks, under new coach Mike D’Antoni, hold the No. 6 pick in the Draft.

2008 NBA Draft Preview – June 25 at 10 p.m.

Stuart Scott, Jay Bilas, Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy will preview the NBA Draft in a live program on ESPN Wednesday, June 25 at 10 p.m. from Madison Square Garden. Analyst Fran Fraschilla and reporters Ric Bucher and Andy Katz will also contribute to the telecast. The one-hour preview will include live interviews with prospects, features, athlete profiles and in-depth analysis of team needs.

ESPN Radio

ESPN Radio's exclusive, live national coverage of the NBA Draft will tip off June 26 at 7:20 p.m. with Marc Kestecher hosting and Will Perdue, Steve Lavin and Doug Gottlieb providing analysis and player profiles. ESPN The Magazine senior writer Ric Bucher will serve as on-site reporter providing behind-the-scenes information.

SportsCenter Specials June 23-25

ESPN will televise a 60-minute SportsCenter Special Monday, June 23 at 10 p.m., along with 90-minute SportsCenter Specials on Tuesday, June 24, at 1:30 p.m. (re-aired at 7:30 p.m.) and Wednesday, June 25, at 1 p.m. offering a preview of the NBA Draft. Matt Winer will host the shows with analysts Jalen Rose (Monday and Tuesday) and Tim Legler (Wednesday) and reporter Chris Broussard.


ESPNEWS will offer extensive Draft coverage with daily content during The Hot List (3-6 p.m.) including analysis from Jay Bilas and Fran Fraschilla and reporters Andy Katz and Ric Bucher. UCLA head coach Ben Howland will contribute to ESPNEWS’ Draft coverage on Thursday, June 26. Thursday’s coverage will also include: interviews with Draft prospects Michael Beasley, Kevin Love and Derrick Rose; video conferencing from team headquarters; and on-site reports from David Amber (Chicago), Colleen Dominguez (Seattle) and Wendi Nix (New York).


ESPNU, the 24-hour college sports network, will televise a two-day “Draft Cram Session” starting Wednesday, June 25 at 6 a.m. through Thursday, June 26 at 7:30 p.m. The specially themed programming block will showcase a variety of games featuring many of the 2008 Draft prospects.

ESPN International

ESPN International will offer a live telecast of the NBA Draft in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. The telecast will be preceded by a special 30-minute preview show.

Content leading up to the Draft:

* Reporters Chad Ford, Andy Katz, Chris Sheridan and Marc Stein on the latest Draft news, trade talk and relative storylines;
* Chad Ford and Bill Simmons pick-by-pick NBA Mock Draft debate (June 24);
* Chad Ford’s Mock Draft 6.0 (June 23) and 7.0 (June 26, with updates throughout the day), including his predictions for all first- and second-round picks;
* Ford’s “Daily Dish” podcast with NBA Draft insiders;
* John Hollinger’s Draft Rater – Hollinger’s new formula which projects NBA performance for college prospects and international players;
* Mock Draft Machine, which allows users to be the general manager for each franchise;
* Video breakdown of all the top NBA Draft prospects;
* Original Digital video feature “The Rookie: Michael Beasley.” Go behind the scenes with this year’s hot draft prospect, plus read his blog at;
* TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott interviews Draft prospects leading up to the draft;
* Conversation pages for each team’s fans to discuss the Draft.

Content on Draft night:

* NBA Draftcast, a real-time application displaying picks, stats, analysis, chats and videos;
* Chats with players right after they are selected in the Draft;
* Chad Ford’s pick-by-pick instant analysis;
* Ford’s team-by-team draft grades;
* Gene Wojciechowski reports from the Chicago Bulls offices;
* Live chats between Draft picks;
* Live SportsNation polling;
* Andy Katz’s Draft recap;
* TrueHoop Draft blog;
* ESPN Radio live streaming Draft coverage;
* ESPN television interviews with top picks;
* Conversation pages for each team fans to discuss team prospects and position.

Post-Draft day:

* Bill Simmons’ NBA Draft Diary;
* 2009 NBA Draft Index;
* 2009 NBA Draft Top 100;
* Conversation pages for each team fans to discuss team prospects and position.

Mobile ESPN Properties

In addition to a live simulcast of the Draft, ESPN Mobile TV’s coverage will feature breaking news updates, instant analysis and a ScoreCenter recap. Additionally, ESPN’s WAP site will have a special Draft section allowing fans to follow all the selections in real time. Fans will also be able to sign up for mobile alerts, which will provide up-to-the-minute selection updates and breaking news.

ESPN The Magazine

ESPN The Magazine’s current issue (on newsstands now) offers a preview of the NBA Draft including: a cover story on top candidate Michael Beasley written by Chris Palmer; a recap of Courtney Lee’s (Western Kentucky) pre-Draft workout tour; and a Mock Draft by Ric Bucher.

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Shout99 & Qdos The Importance Of Professional Contract Reviews

Qdos: the importance of professional contract reviews

For the next two weeks, Shout99 and Qdos Consulting is running a special offer for readers for full contract reviews at £50.
Here Qdos explains the importance of a contract review:

Qdos Consulting writes:

Those who are seasoned veterans of the contracting community will be familiar with the workings of agencies. These large organisations will typically assure any contractor they come across that they offer fully IR35-compliant contracts. They will invariably point to the fact that their terms and conditions have been drafted by legal experts and pass all the necessary IR35 tests.

Newcomers to the world of contracting, or those who were rushed through their agency or client’s processes in order to make a quick start on a particular assignment, may have taken solace in their agency’s comments. Unfortunately, the inconvenient truth is that a large number of agencies use contracts that are wholly inappropriate for those wishing to operate as a ltd company contractor.

Although many agency contracts will have been drafted by legal experts, the IR35 legislation is open to interpretation. Without up-to-date knowledge of recent case law, and a firm grasp of the taxation issues at hand, it is extremely difficult to draft an entirely IR35-compliant agreement. As such, even if an agency has the best of intentions, attempts to accommodate for all the necessary provisions of legitimate self-employment frequently fall short of the mark.

Additionally, agencies will often have blanket agreements with larger clients that are intended to govern their relationship with many contractors. As there are very few implications for agencies if a contractor using one of their agreements is caught by IR35, they will, understandably, be more inclined to cater for the end client’s requirements rather than those of the individual contractors. Frequently, these requirements can have negative implications from an IR35 perspective.

Many contractors will simply take their agency at their word and assume that they have an IR35 friendly agreement. More savvy contractors will want to seek assurances elsewhere. The first port of call for many of these contractors will be their accountants – many of which do offer IR35 contract review services. The downside of this approach is that many accountants, while familiar with the concept of IR35, may lack the specialist knowledge to complete a satisfactory appraisal of your status. This is acknowledged by many larger accounting firms who outsource their IR35 reviews to independent specialists.

Qdos have successfully defended over 1000 IR35 cases and are leading taxation specialists. Qdos’ team of IR35 consultants (many of whom have worked for HMRC directly) are able to offer full and detailed IR35 contract reviews to freelancers. These reviews will highlight all the strengths and weaknesses of your contract and provide you with all the necessary information to bolster your IR35 position.

Advertisement: Special offer for Shout99 readers
For more details on how to apply for a £50 contract review see: Special offer: Contract Reviews for £50.

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